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May 30, 2016
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Vista Ramen on Cherokee

Friday, May 27th, 2016

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Unlike many of us, the crew at Vista Ramen will be hard at work on Memorial Day. Doors open for dinner service at Cherokee Street’s newest restaurant on Monday, May 30. As The Scoop reported in August, executive chef Chris Bork (formerly of Blood & Sand) and The Mudhouse owners Jeremy and Casey Miller announced plans to turn the space at 2609 Cherokee St., into a 36-seat restaurant featuring ramen and Asian-inspired dishes.

The narrow space features a long open kitchen lined with a bar and a row of seats, while small tables line the front windows. The space’s design was heavily influenced by the 1930s, as was its name. The owners named the restaurant Vista after purchasing the large 1930s neon sign that glows at the entrance. Several local artisans had a hand in the restaurant’s design, including gold-leaf lettering by Phil Jarvis, handmade ramen bowls by Karabel and the kitchen bar hewn by woodworker Pete Voss.

Bork created a small menu featuring three ramen bowls: the pork-based Vista, the spicy shrimp and a vegetarian option with miso-roasted carrot and daikon and “coconut schmaltz.” Cherokee neighbor Midwest Pasta Co. makes the springy, thick ramen noodles. His small plates menu features dishes like a house-made Thai sausage, Korean fried chicken and a kimchi pancake.

General manager and beverage director Aaron Stoval helms the bar tucked into the corner of the restaurant. A small, curated selection of alcoholic beverage is meant to complement the food, including seven beers in bottles or cans, a handful of wines and a selection of spirits. Group service for sake and Japanese shochu will be offered. Stoval, who spent four years at The Mudhouse, has also curated a house tea program with help from Retrailer Tea.

Vista Ramen will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect when you step inside Cherokee Street’s newest restaurant.

 

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

Sneak Peek: Farm to You Market in Washington

Monday, April 11th, 2016

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It’s about to get easier to buy local in Franklin County. Farm to You Market opens at 5025 Old Highway 100 in Washington on Wednesday, April 13, with a grand opening to come May 6 and 7. A longtime vision of farmer and co-owner Todd Geisert, the market will stock the usual grocery store suspects (like meat, eggs, cheese, produce, dry goods, seasonings, wine and beer) but the offerings will be primarily sourced from vendors in a 200-mile radius of the store.

More commonly known vendors like Companion, Midwest Pasta Co. and Todd Geisert Farms will be featured alongside lesser known purveyors like Giofre Apiaries, which makes honey ice cream.

Geisert is also working to connect the various vendors to use each other’s products in their own offerings. For example, rice produced by the McKaskle Family Farm in Braggadocio, Missouri may make its way into Thompson Farm’s soup mixes. Todd Geisert Farms’ bacon is included in Giofre Apiaries’ honey ice cream.

More than a market, the space includes the Barn Yard Cafe, a 40-seat space that shoppers can use to enjoy a sandwich from the deli or reserve a seat for the planned monthly dinners featuring chefs like Ben McArthur of J. McArthur’s and Chris Bork of the upcoming Vista Ramen.

Farm to You Market will be open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. Here’s what to expect when the doors slide open Wednesday.

 

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-photos by Meera Nagarajan

Sneak Peek: Fred and Ricky’s in Maryland Heights

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

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Grab-and-go is about to get healthier in Maryland Heights. Fred and Ricky’s opens doors tomorrow, April 8, at 64 Weldon Parkway. Co-owners Kathleen “Fred” Waidmann and Richard Waidmann have custom-built a 5,000-square-foot commissary kitchen to prepare plant-based, health-focused meals.

As The Scoop reported in November 2015, Fred and Ricky’s menu features dishes without meat, dairy, eggs, refined sugar or oil. A small storefront at the commissary kitchen houses a refrigerated case displaying packaged breakfasts, salads, soups, baked goods and entrees like mushroom barley risotto and Plantsagna, a vegetarian lasagna with dairy-free cheese.

Chef Andy Harris has scaled up Kathleen Waidmann’s recipes that she developed for her husband, who follows a plant-based diet. While the Maryland Heights location is only grab-and-go, the Waidmanns are already working on another satellite location at 11252 Olive Blvd., in Creve Coeur, which will offer a handful of seats for customers. That location is slated to open at the end of the month.

Rather than operate a full-service restaurant, the Waidmanns said they opted for a grab-and-go operation to provide nutritious meals quickly for workers looking for a fast lunch or an easy dinner option. Mostly single-serving portions are packaged in recyclable, BPA-free plastic containers and include microwave reheating instructions. The Waidmanns hope to expand their concept quickly, adding more locations to be supplied from the Maryland Heights kitchen. They’re also planning a delivery service.

Fred and Ricky’s will be open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect when doors open tomorrow morning:

 

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-photos by Meera Nagarajan

Sneak Peek: Gioia’s Deli Downtown

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Gioia’s Deli Downtown is opening at 903 Pine St. today. As reported by The Scoop in January, this is the 98-year-old deli’s second location.

Third generation co-owner Alex Donley chose the spot after seeing how good lunch business was downtown. “The food truck sells out every Friday,” he said. Now Gioia’s-lovers can eat inside.

The menu is almost the same as that on The Hill, with the addition of a couple favorites from Gioia’s food truck and catering menus: the Hogfather sandwich, featuring hot coppa, hot salami and bacon, and the Italian Salad, with pepperoncini, black olives, tomatoes, red onion and mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

The 2,000 square-foot space seats 40 for weekday lunch, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

-photos by Meera Nagarajan

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Sneak Peek: Shift, Test Kitchen & Take Out

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

 

Downtown STL will welcome Shift, Test Kitchen & Take Out when it opens to the public Tuesday, April 5. As The Scoop reported in June 2015, the newest concept in the Bailey’s family of restaurants will offer a rotating menu of carryout meals and sides.

The menu will feature a rotating selection of national and international barbecue selections for the foreseeable future. In addition to offering meals to go, Shift will also serve as a test kitchen for the Bailey family of restaurants, particularly the barbecue concept slated to open in 2017.

The menu will drop and introduce a couple of items per week, due in part to Bailey’s whole animal butchery program and selective, seasonal sourcing, as well as Shift’s experimental nature.

Meals are generally priced less than $10 with side dish options up to $6, and will be available for walk-in diners to start, but keep an eye out for online ordering in the future. Shift is located at 313 N. 11th St. in downtown, adjacent to Rooster and close to Bailey’s other downtown St. Louis establishments.

“I like downtown,” owner Dave Bailey said. “It’s a unique beast and there have been hard times, but lots of people live down here and we have some great regulars. Our restaurants have an accessible price point and we keep things fun and charming and are able to offer different types of food for different people at different times of the day.”

Shift will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

-photos by Meera Nagarajan

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Sneak Peek: Parigi in Clayton

Friday, February 12th, 2016

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Restaurateur and chef Ben Poremba’s latest eatery, Parigi, is firing up the burners in Clayton at 8025 Bonhomme Ave. As The Scoop reported in June 2015, Parigi is Poremba’s fourth restaurant venture, an Italian restaurant on the ground floor of Clayton on the Park at Bonhomme Avenue and Brentwood Boulevard

While Poremba continues to helm the kitchens at Elaia and Olio in Botanical Heights, Ramon Cuffie will serve as Parigi’s executive chef. Poremba will work closely with Cuffie, a St. Louis native whose experience includes time at Bar Italia and in kitchens in Washington D.C., Seattle and France.

Following a traditional Italian meal format, the menu includes antipasti, a selection of first-course pastas and meat-centric second course options featuring a variety of proteins. Guests can also opt for the chef’s choice, an evening special selected by Cuffie.

Director of operations and wine director Aaron Sherman curated the extensive wine list. Thirteen sparkling, white and red wines are offered by the glass with more than 120 varieties available by the bottle. Urban Chestnut beers are available on tap while four signature cocktails and 10 Champagne-based and classic cocktails are offered.

Customers can currently get a taste of Parigi at reservations-only soft opening dinners featuring a limited four-course menu at a fixed price. Regular dinner service will begin Friday, Feb. 19. Dinner hours will be Monday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m., with breakfast and lunch hours to follow.

Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect when doors open at Parigi:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

Sneak Peek: Companion in Maryland Heights

Monday, February 1st, 2016

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Companion is inviting the public into its baking process starting tomorrow, Feb. 2. As The Scoop reported in January 2015, Companion moved its headquarters, along with a baking school and cafe, to 2331 Schuetz Road in Maryland Heights. The 5,000-square-foot cafe seats 66 and will serve the same menu as the Ladue and Clayton locations with a few additions to the bakery offerings like bread pudding and doughnuts.

The airy, industrial cafe has two full walls of windows overlooking into the production bakery. “You weren’t in the middle of the process in the other locations,” said co-owner Josh Allen. “With the exception of dish washing, you see everything that happens.”

In addition to the visible bakery, Companion welcomes community involvement through a teaching kitchen at the new location. Chef Cassie Vires recently joined the Companion team to lead the array of public culinary and baking classes Allen hopes to offer in April. Chef Josh Galliano, who joined Companion as production manager in June 2015, will also teach.

The new Maryland Heights location will be open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect at Companion’s new home:

 

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-photos by Meera Nagarajan

Sneak Peek: Olive & Oak in Webster Groves

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

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Webster Groves welcomes its newest restaurant when Olive & Oak fires up the burners tonight, Jan. 26, at 102 W. Lockwood Ave. Having spent the past six months preparing, co-owners Mark Hinkle and Greg Ortyl, along with executive chef Jesse Mendica, are eager to share their food with the community at a grand opening this weekend.

As The Scoop reported in May 2015, Hinkle formerly worked in front-of-house management at Annie Gunn’s in Chesterfield. Inspired by that experience, the Olive & Oak wine list boasts more than 120 bottles with 20 available by the glass, while bar manager Chelsea Little’s cocktail menu offers light and bubbly options, as well as boozy libations and eight rotating local beer taps.

Executive chef Jesse Mendica also hails from Annie Gunn’s, where she served as executive sous chef for eight years. Her menu offerings include oysters and other pre-dinner seafood options, five appetizers and half a dozen soup and salad options. The entrees are almost evenly split between surf and turf dishes, including chicken options and two sharable dishes – a salt-roasted red snapper and a rib-eye. Meat-free options appear as entrees like a potpie filled with local mushrooms and cauliflower and a grilled pear and cheese sandwiches featuring Tulip Tree Trillium.

Here’s what to expect when you step inside Webster Groves’ newest eatery:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

Sneak Peek: Porano Pasta on Washington Avenue

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

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After nearly a year of anticipation, chef-owner Gerard Craft will open Porano Pasta, his new fast-casual concept, Tuesday, Jan. 26. As The Scoop reported last February, this is the James Beard Award winner’s fifth restaurant, and it is located in a massive two-story space at 634 Washington Ave., downtown in the Mercantile Exchange. Executive chef Michael Petres, former executive chef at Pastaria, will oversee day-to-day operations.

Customers will step up to the counter and build their own bowls from a selection of bases, sauces, proteins or vegetables and toppings. They can start with house-made organic semolina pasta, organic farro, romaine and kale lettuce or Italian rice, then add one of 11 house-made sauces including everything from a classic pomodoro to pumpkin seed and lime pesto.

Porano features hormone- and antibiotic-free meat such as slow-roasted pork, beef meatballs and grilled chicken. Veg-friendly offerings like spicy tofu or seasonable vegetables (currently butternut squash or Brussels sprouts) are also available. In additional to bowls, Craft and Petres have created a daily focaccia dish using Companion bread and Panzos, fried dough pockets stuffed with rotating fillings.

The large beverage menu includes a frozen Negroni and a nonalcoholic strawberry-lime slush inspired by Italian granitas. White and red house Scarpetta wines on tap are available, as well as bottled and canned brews, a house draft beer brewed by The Civil Life and several Excel sodas.

In addition to quick, custom meals, Craft said he wants to focus on how he can source locally and responsibly as a fast-casual concept. “We want to rework the way the fast-food industry thinks about the supply chain,” Craft said. To that end, Porano recently purchased whole hogs to break down in-house and use for its porchetta, Sunday sugo sauce and specials. Craft aims to source from many of his current vendors that supply other Niche Food Group restaurants, including Todd Geisert Farms, Newman Farms, Double Star Farm and Berger Bluff farms.

Porano will be open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., though it will operate on limited hours to start. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect when doors open Tuesday at Porano Pasta:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

Sneak Peek: Nami Ramen in Clayton

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

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Clayton, get ready to slurp. Nami Ramen will open doors Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 46 N. Central Ave., in the former home of House of Wong. Jason Jan, who co-owns the restaurant with wife Yen Jan, took his passion for creating authentic ramen at home and launched it into a full-fledged business. He spent two months working in ramen shops in Yokohama, Japan, perfecting techniques and developing recipes before passing that knowledge on to chef Arron Syedullah.

Nami offers 10 styles of ramen from traditional tonkotsu with braised pork belly to more Americanized Breakfast Ramen with a poached egg and thick-cut bacon. Each steaming bowl is filled with a house-made broth that simmers away in 120-quart stockpots for 12 to 15 hours until it reaches the ideal consistency. Customers can also choose from a small list of appetizers like kare-age chicken (bites of Japanese fried chicken), gyoza and soon-to-come steam buns, as well as rice bowls for those seeking a break from noodles.

Customers order at the counter and then grab one of 50 seats at the fast-casual eatery. While they slurp, they can sip bottled or canned local craft beer from Schlafly, 4 Hands or Urban Chestnut, or enjoy a glass of wine. True to ramen’s history in Japan as after-hours fare, Jan hopes to host late-night collaborations with local breweries in the future.

Nami Ramen will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come when doors open at Clayton’s new ramen shop:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

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